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Sep 2, 2012
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What is our obsession with balconies? Particularly balconies that jut out. Is there a building code requiring them?

I get that they are a piece of the outdoors in the sky... But I find them really heavy and messy.

I prefer recessed balconies. Although, I wish solariums would make a comeback. After all, most of the balconies built today are larger than the bathrooms in the units!
Or "private aviary" - my friend's Yonge/Egg balcony seems to be a perpetual nesting site for pigeons.
Or "private aviary" - my friend's Yonge/Egg balcony seems to be a perpetual nesting site for pigeons.

When I was a little kid we used to rent an apartment near Broadview and Cosburn, and our balcony had quite a pigeon problem. Everything from our bicycles to the barbecue would get shat on on a regular basis, until we eventually installed bird proof netting similar to this one.


Do all buildings have this problem or does it depend on location? We lived on the 4th floor and later moved to the 12th floor, but I can't remember which one had the netting installed.


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I currently live in a mid-rise and would never consider renting an apartment or condo that did not have either a balcony, a patio, or some sort of outside space. A lot of the older apartment buildings nearby (Deer Park) do not, and while they are very beautiful and stately, I would feel far too claustrophobic living in one of them.

I think that balconies do not have to be eyesores by definition, and in face can be quite an attractive feature if incorporated properly into the massing of the building.
I love having a balcony and use it a lot if it is large enough to fit furniture like a sofa and planters, and has a gas outlet for a BBQ (propane tanks are almost always prohibited), but it seems like I am the minority here.
I agree that balconies are overrated as most people don't use them much and often becomes an eyesore where it becomes storage for bicycles, unused furniture and other junk. Fritted glass balcony railings do help in hiding resident's unsightly belongings, but not many condos have that feature.
Not only that, I found that balconies often creates a busier and cluttered appearance on buildings -- I like the pure look of a tower devoid of balconies which you often see in New York.

I am surprised with all these very tall condos popping up everywhere you don't hear more reports of furniture or objects flying or thrown off the balconies which poses a serious safety issue. On the topic of debris from balconies, there will always be residents who are not respectful of their neighbours and will clean their stuff (like shaking off rugs), throw cigarette butts or litter, or let their pets defecate on their balcony which is clearly against condo rules -- I have seen it often and even reported a neighbour who let their two dogs piss and crap on their balcony which drips on to the balconies below.

The biggest issue that not that many people are aware of are the big energy loss and building failures associated with balconies. Balconies are not required by code to be thermally broken and no developer are willing to pay for this expensive feature. Balconies are simply extensions of the concrete floor slab which are left exposed to the elements. This causes the cold to transfer into the interior of the building.
What's even worse is that condensation will form between the floor slab and finished floor (often wood or laminate) which causes mould or the flooring to warp or deteriorate. I have seen this problem in a lot of buildings as young as 3 years old where the flooring is buckling near a balcony door or window wall. If you live in a building that has wrap around balconies it's an even bigger problem to face in the future. Terraces are a much better alternative as the top surface is built-up above the slab and the underside is heated and protected from the interior of the unit below. However depending on the building's design terraces are rare in condo towers and often limited to the podium level.
Balconies are near-useless in our climate. I know some people use them, but the vast majority don't. Unfortunately, condo developers are now convinced that nobody in this town will buy a condo without a balcony (which may be true, as I know several people who were convinced they absolutely needed one but now that they have one, never use it). Let's have a mix; some units can have balconies for those who insist on one, and let the rest of the building be uncluttered by unsightly concrete carbuncles. Win-win?
Quick question to everyone, what exactly is so unpleasant about the way balconies look?

Extruding balconies on modern and neo-modern architecture ruin the linear nature of the design, which is the entire point. They're the signature of a lazy architect or (most likely) a cheap developer. From the pedestrian's sidewalk perspective, they look like concrete slabs just sticking out from an otherwise glass/spandrel/whatever tower. People use them as a storage locker in the winter.

Recessed balconies are fine by me.
Extruding linear balconies are prolific in new condos and they are terrible. The worst part is all that separates you from your neighbour is essentially a flimsy bathroom stall divider.

I lived in a condo without a balcony and I didn't mind it. I find most balconies narrow, windswept, and too noisy to be comfortable. On the other hand, I'd love a real patio space.
Balconies scare me due to my fear of heights. We used to have one and I was afraid to go on it. Thankfully, we now live in a unit with a solarium.